Duct Tape Forever
A Review by Mark McLeod
August 31st 2002
The world is full of all sorts of strange phenomenon. These include groups of people that are huge fans of certain things, some of these groups I can understand while others I just can't see what they are all going crazy about. I can understand how people can go crazy over Harry Potter or Star Wars and Star Trek and even things like computer games. However every once in awhile comes something I just can't see what the appeal is. One of these things is the Red Green Show shown on PBS in the US and CBC up here in Canada. For those of you unfamiliar with the show it's about a man named Red Green and his friends who live in a remote area of Ontario they call Possum Lodge. It's here where they build things and go through every day situations in funny ways. A simple premise that has served the show and it's fans well for 11 seasons. I've tried watching the show on occasion but I just can't seem to figure out what the fuss is all about. Despite my inability to grasp the concept, there is no questioning that the fan base is there and so the powers that be decided it was time for Red to hit the big screen in an adventure entitled "Duct Tape Forever".
Red Green (Steve Smith) and his friends love to hang out at their beloved Possum Lodge located in the small rural area of Possum Lake, Ontario. They don't have any special skills other then their love of using duct tape to fix anything and everything. One day a visitor comes to the Lodge in a limousine which promptly get's stuck in a sinkhole. Green and his friends manage to get the car out of the hole but no sooner do they do that then it falls in a nearby lake. The owner of the limo decides to sue the Lodge for the damage. The lodge members lose the case and are ordered to pay ten thousand dollars in damages within ten days or the Lodge will become the property of the town. Faced with quite a predicament the lodge members try and come up with a way to save it but to no avail. Harold (Patrick McKenna) suggests that they enter a duct tape contest which just so happens to have a third place prize of ten thousand dollars. Deciding that this is their only hope the members quickly build a giant duct tape goose and before you know it Red, Harold and lodge member Dalton (Bob Bainborough) are hitting the open road in the Possum van. However the visitor Mr Styles (Robert Fitzpatrick) has other plans which involve making sure that Red never makes it to the competition. With the local law enforcement hot on their heals, will Red and Harold make it to the competiton and save Possum Lodge or will it be under new ownership.
Red Green's "Duct Tape Forever" directed by Eric Till is one of those feature films where you have to be a fan of the television series to truly appreciate the humor involved. That really harms the film in that it limits it's potential audience. Since I've never watched the show I didn't care about the characters of Red and Harold nor was I routing for them to save their precious lodge. Infact for me it was the exact opposite. I was hoping that they'd fail and they would have to find a new place to live. The film which was written by Steve Smith doesn't feel like a feature film instead it plays out as simply a longer, bigger episode of the television show. True the television show takes place mostly within the confines of the lodge and this film takes the characters on a journey but there just wasn't enough there to get me interested.
In a movie like "Duct Tape Forever" it's tough to judge the level of the performances given by the film stars. On one hand I can judge them using my usual level of standards while on the other hand these are actors and actresses that usually appear on a simple television series and do not have a huge resume of motion picture film work. For what it's worth Steve Smith is the epitome of Red Green and the 11+ years of playing the character comes across on the screen. There is no doubt that Steve is Red and Red is Steve. However the same can't be said for Patrick McKenna who plays Red's nerdy nephew Harold. McKenna has a more varied resume having played serious parts in the television series "Traders" as well as the recent CBC miniseries "Trudeau". McKenna plays things a bit too over the top for my liking in that he's trying to hard to be the stereotypical dork. The rest of the supporting cast is made up of actors who have appeared on the series and the list is really too long to go through individually.
It's clear that the film is aimed at fans of the series as the comedic material comes through in much the same way as it would on TV. Jokes that would seem hilarious to the typical Red Green viewer fell flat on their face with me. The film is a comedy but I didn't laugh once and I can count the number of times I grinned on one hand. I don't blame writer Steve Smith or director Eric Till for anything because I respect what they accomplished. They've made a film for the fans and while it might not work for a mainstream audience of non fans, I can say without a doubt that most fans of the series will love this film. However, there just isn't anything for people who haven't seen the show or haven't come to love the humor. It's just too much of an inside joke. So the best advice I can offer you is to catch a couple episodes of the show first before renting or purchasing this film.
Movie Rating : 5/10
VIDEO: TVA Films (formerly TVA International) brings "Duct Tape Forever" to the small screen in a disappointing 1.33:1 pan and scanned transfer. The film which was shown theatrically at 1.85:1 is clearly modified for this home video release. I'm a film believer that all films should be shown as they were originally intended by the director and anything less then that is unacceptable. I'm not sure exactly what the reason for the decision to go 1.33:1 only but perhaps it might have something to do with the fact that the movie is based on a popular TV series and as such fans of the film may prefer to have their television screen filled. Either way the fact that the film is presented in this fashion is a major disappointment. Adding to the disappointment is the fact that other then the ratio of the presentation itself, the transfer is quite good. The image itself appears sufficiently sharp and is well detailed though there is always room for improvement. Colors appear natural and are well saturated. Those looking for a rich and colorful palette are in the wrong place though the earthy tones are certainly problem free. In terms of problems, the transfer does suffer from periods of grain and as well as one nasty incident of shimmering on the side of a limousine. Being a very recent theatrical release, the print is free of dust specs and other flaws. The layer change comes towards the end of the film and is rather poorly placed but that's just a minor nitpick. All in all this is a very nice transfer from TVA that's only major fault is that it's not presented in it's original aspect ratio. Given my belief and love of film in general. I can't give this transfer a higher mark then a 7.5. Technically speaking it's an 8 but the lack of original aspect ratio presentation get's it knocked down a notch.
Video Rating : 7.5/10
SOUND: TVA Film goes all out with "Duct Tape Forever" by including both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio tracks. "Duct Tape Forever" is a fairly simple comedy motion picture and as such this track suffers from "Comedy Audio Syndrome" which means that the majority of the sound comes from the front three speakers with very little sound emanating from the rear channels. Dialogue dominates the film and given the low budget nature of the film sounds adequate. It could have been mixed a little louder but it's still easily heard and understood. Sound effect usage is limited to a few key action scenes and is generally fine though certainly nothing near reference quality. The hokey sounding musical score by Glen Morley is balanced nicely with the other elements so that it doesn't really standout. The LFE channel remains silent throughout as do the rear channels except for one or two bursts of slight ambience. "Duct Tape Forever" sounds as good as it probably ever will but it's not something you'll remember hours or even minutes after viewing.
Audio Rating : 8/10
EXTRAS: TVA International has included a collection of extras aimed at the Red Green fan including an audio commentary with Steve Smith as well as a 60 minute making of documentary, photo gallery and the film's theatrical trailers which unlike the film itself are presented in the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
Extras Rating : 7/10
Final Thoughts: The humor on display in "Duct Tape Forever" is an acquired taste and one that may not come easy to a large group of people. I was never swept into the series and therefore I couldn't relate to this big screen extravaganza. TVA Films has provided a strong DVD featuring a good audio mix as well an some cool bonus features aimed at the Red Green fan. Sadly the company hasn't done the video aspect of the DVD justice by including only a 1.33:1 pan and scanned version of the film. Fans of the television series will without a doubt enjoy this DVD release while those of you on the fence about the series or the film should check it out as a rental. I can't really recommend the disc as a purchase because of the modified aspect ratio presentation but if "Duct Tape Forever" is your cup of tea, please atleast rent the disc.
Disc Rating : 6.5/10